haunted

I am not at all superstitious, so this is, to me, rather hilarious. I am talking about the ‘spirits’ that have been lurking and stalking me lately: Antonin Artaud and Richard Wagner in clown outfits no less. Right, yes, I have a vivid imagination, and I do have some really bizarre dreams too, but this coincidence is ridiculous.

Tech-Fail again!!!! I am talking about yesterday’s groundbreaking super amazing event that a group of us managed to conjure up and bring in a full house as a bonus.

Disability Led Practices 2018 copy

We belong to a Facebook group interested in the subject of disability studies. Someone posted an advertisement for a story telling workshop charging $200 to teach disabled folk how to tell their own stories. Some of us remarked that they shouldn’t charge so much, then I jokingly said that we could create our own event about disability and our stories, one suggestion led to another and it snowballed into a real ‘thing’. There was a time constraint, one of us needs to head back to Chicago to continue his PhD study when term starts again, so we had to make our event happen before he leaves. I was mired in the preparations for TEDx and didn’t have time to really pitch in with solid work (read about the TEDx fiasco here). I reached out for help from the Disabled People’s Association and as always they were happy to support us. All we needed was a venue – which took some time to secure. Finally, less than two weeks before our intended event, one of the team managed to wrangle a freebie from the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Phew! With that little time left for publicity, I wondered if anyone would attend. We were charging $10 per person to help pay for various things like sign language interpreters and a note taker, refreshments etc. Nail-bitingly scary, but guess what, Full House!!

Anyway, back to my comedy with those two guys, Artaud and Wagner.

AV all went perfectly fine for the other four speakers, but when it came to my turn (I was doing the wrapping up), midway through, the eerie stuff returned. My slides won’t show, the videos won’t play and the screen went fuzzy and psychedelic – very trippy! Well, it was yet another opportunity to tell the audience my funny story about what went down at TEDx. This time, however, I was not at all irritated or annoyed. The team member manning the technical equipment is not a professional, and I could see the poor chap trying valiantly to restore some order to the screen. It was actually funny, unlike my TEDx experience. Why? Because of expectations and the frame within which each event occurred. TEDx prides itself as a professional event, I put myself through months of preparation and regular rehearsals at my own expense, I also forked out good money to bring Lucy and myself to the tech rehearsal the night before, and they were supposed to have a professional crew looking after the technical side of things. So, microphone failure in the middle of my speech, playing the wrong videos, losing my videos, and then playing the correct video without sound – these mistakes, to me, are unprofessional and inexcusable. But yesterday’s event was a casual one, put together by non-professionals, just like-minded people sharing a common passion, each of us pitching in however we could. Very difference scenario, don’t you think?

It had to be me… I can hear myself singing that song in my head even now. I blame it on Artaud and Wagner. They do seem to follow me around. Never a dull moment, it seems. My life is a grand theatre of strange juxtapositions.

Yesterday, we had great fun. We learned from one another. We shared our stories to at least 55 people in that room. I was inspired by my friends to try harder to make everything more accessible to people with different disabilities from mine. To think outside of my own bubble. And I hope we collectively inspired others in the room to do so too.

“Presume Competence! It is not hard to do!” This phrase is quoted from my TEDx speech. It will be something I keep in mind henceforth.

We are now looking forward to our next event.

Disability Leadership has begun in Singapore! At last. We didn’t wait for organisations and the establishment to do it for us – I doubt if they ever would, despite talking endlessly about “inclusion” – we did this ourselves. We – disabled folk and allies – are proud of ourselves. And thankful to those who support us. Each and every person who turned up yesterday – Thank You!

P.S. Here is what I had prepared to speak on yesterday, my speaker’s notes. I’ve added some extra videos for a bonus 🙂